“I aimed right for his heart,” said Earl Jones, a 92-year-old man from Kentucky, as he described the moment when he delivered a fatal shot to a home intruder.
What could have caused such calculated determination? We should go back to the beginning, but to be fair this is a story that’s 92 years in the making.
Earl Jones has been having trouble with young whippersnappers recently. Not because they drive too fast or because they walk around with their fancy iPod whatchamacallits, but because they’ve been stealing from him. Jones has recently been the victim of three separate incidents of theft. The crooks have taken just about everything they can get their hands on, from guns and money to livestock.
It’s kind of understandable how Jones’ property could have become a hotspot for criminal activity. To criminals, old timers probably seem like easy targets. They don’t have the best eyesight, their reflexes can be a little slow, and some of them can’t get out of their chair, let alone put up a fight. But young folks tend to forget: you don’t get a few years away from the big 100 by being a wuss.
Just to refresh your memories, here’s an incomplete list of what 92-year-old Earl Jones of Kentucky has been through in his lifetime:
- The Great Depression
- Serving in World War II
- The Red Scare
- ‘80s Fashion
If we ever decided to get into the world of crime, “people who fought the Nazis” would probably be pretty low on our list of targets. But Lloyd Maxwell, 24, Ryan Dalton, 22, and Donnie Inabnit, 20, were willing to take their chances. They broke into Jones’ home in the fourth and most recent robbery incident, which led to a lethal encounter with a still very dangerous gun owner.
As soon as Maxwell entered the doorway and exposed himself to Jones, the WWII veteran pulled the trigger. The would-be thieves retreated, leaving Jones to call his neighbor, who then called police. When asked why Jones never bothered to call 911, he matter-of-factly answered, “I’m a military man — I ain’t going to dial somebody and have to wait for an hour while the guy shoots me in the face and is gone.”
This might be a good time to mention what Jones did in WWII. He served in the Air Force and worked on planes, including the Enola Gay. Yes, the Enola Gay, the one that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.
The robbers retreated to their car and drove for about a mile before calling 911. Medical help and authorities showed up to find Lloyd Maxwell dead on arrival. The other two offered a shaky alibi about what caused the wound and were ultimately arrested. Dalton and Inabnit are both being charged with 2nd degree complicity and tampering with physical evidence.
Jones, on the other hand, will not be charged. Kentucky lawyer Bruce McClure explained that Jones was well in his right to pull the trigger. “The statute does not require you to retreat even to the telephone,” McClure said. “His defense is that he had a right to presume that they meant to cause him harm. He’s got the presumption in his favor.”
This shooting might put a stop to the recent crime spree, but if it doesn’t then this fiery old-timer still isn’t about to throw in the towel. He’s already phoned police to try to get his confiscated weapon back. In the meanwhile, his neighbor has loaned Jones a shotgun and a local pawn shop has offered to give him a replacement rifle.
That just goes to show you: mess with WWII veterans at your own peril.